Video-asstisted Thoracic Surgery Tool

Photo: Lung

The primary objective of lung cancer screening with low dose computer tomography (CT) is to detect lung cancer at an early stage and thus amenable to a complete surgical resection, the only established cure for lung cancer.

Lung cancer currently has no standard screening program and less than one third of lung cancer patients present with early stage disease amenable to cure. One of the concerns regarding lung cancer screening is how to manage detected lung nodules, the majority of which are benign.

The Danish study evaluated the role of VATS resection in a CT screened (2,052) versus unscreened (2,052) high risk Danish population from the Danish Lung Cancer Screening Trial. The study is a randomised clinically controlled trial comparing 5 annual CT screening rounds with no screening in 4104 individuals.

Sixty-eight (3.3 per cent) lung cancers were detected in the screened population versus 24 (1.2 per cent) in the unscreened population. Fifty-one of the 68 patients with lung cancer in the screened group were candidates for surgery for cure and 84 per cent of these had VATS versus 50 per cent in the unscreened group. Eight patients in the screened group had lesions highly suspicious for cancer that proved to be benign once removed by VATS.

Although the comparison groups were too small to detect a difference in this study, previous studies have found VATS to confer advantages over thoracotomy with respect to reduced post-operative pain, shorter hospital stay, more rapid resumption of normal daily activities, less impairment in pulmonary function, less impairment in shoulder function, reduced cytokine release, decreased time to initiation of adjuvant chemotherapy, lower incidence of complications and economic advantages. Thus, the ability to perform VATS, compared to thoracotomy, more frequently in the screened versus unscreened population, is potentially a very significant finding.

"We believe that it is of upmost importance for future low dose CT screening trials to have thoracic surgeons involved in the early detection program and that the thoracic surgeons should have a dedicated VATS program," the authors say.; Source: International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer